LET’S LISTEN: Professional mediator to conduct public meetings regarding Colo. Nat’l Monument
Those who value Colorado National Monument and would like a say regarding the types of activities they’d like to see happen there may want to mark their calendars for two public listening sessions coming up July 9 and 10.
Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said the gatherings, to be held in Fruita and Grand Junction, are intended to allow the community and the National Park Service an opportunity to listen to one another and learn what kinds of commercial and visitor activities are desired, appropriate and allowable for a national park.
Each year, the monument must balance a large number of special-use permits with its mission to protect natural and cultural resources for future generations. The mission, outlined in the 1916 Organic Act, additionally considers activities that are specifically designed to enhance visitors’ enjoyment and knowledge of a park.
“Each park superintendent weighs requests for special uses or services, while having to comply with this mission,” Eckert said.
“We hope these workshops will begin an open conversation with folks in the valley about the monument. We want to hear what uses the community thinks are appropriate for the monument, and help build a shared understanding about the monument’s resources and how they are managed. We hope as many people as possible will join in this conversation.”
The meetings will be facilitated by Mary Margaret Golten of CDR Associates, a Boulder-based mediation company. The firm will later prepare a report, expected to be released this fall, which will be shared with the public, Eckert said.
The first gathering will take place Tuesday, July 9, from 4-7 p.m. at the Fruita Community Center, 324 N. Coulson St. The second meeting will be in Grand Junction in the University Center Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University on Wednesday, July 10, noon to 3 p.m.
These kinds of conversations between the park service and the community have occurred before, said regional office spokesman Rick Frost. “It’s a very regular kind of thing the park service tries to do. Having a conversation with the community is essential and important to running our parks.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.